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Researching ‘advice for young people’ for my last column, for Saathee, I found this intriguing short piece called Desiderata. Now, this may be quite familiar to many, because of the very real nature of Western intellectualism being more commonly delivered to our textbooks and into our everyday lives if we grow up in the West than, say, those who may have other perspectives, like the one I ended up writing about, after all. (Silence, namely. Letting people decide their own things. Jiddu Krishnamurthi’s unpackaged suggestions through his writings and lectures have pointed me this way, and the perspective of keeping quiet instead of over-verbalizing your opinion has been etched further from the many, many conversations that I’ve been lucky to get to have with those whom I have gotten to know, who have opened up, and who have come out and told me when I outright ask, ‘What do you think?’, and, importantly, who are wildy uninfluenced by Western traditions. So refreshing.)

That said, it’s sometimes worthwhile to keep these footnotes around as a reference point. Except for the ‘God’ reference, which I could do without, personally, I feel this short letter, reportedly from a father to his daughter, has some real heft to it.

Here it is.

Desiderata: Original Text This is the original text from the book where Desiderata was first published.

‘Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

‘Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

‘But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.’ -Max Ehrmann, 1927

Advice for young people

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